Uni field trip to Amsterdam starts tomorrow! Woopah!
House form: the result if physical conditions or the expression of socio-cultural values?
Today’s archive location: the Scottish National Museum! #edinburgh #architecture #architecturestudent
Overheard on the 10.15 Edinburgh Castle tour:
American teen: “Is that Norway?”
Tour Guide: “No… That is Fife across the estuary.”
Another day spent perusing the RCAHMS archive looking for black houses and long houses on the Isle of Skye. Moving onto the Edinburgh Central Library tomorrow.
Whoever recommended the Chocolate Tree - it was amazing! I had the organic hot chocolate and sea salt & caramel ice cream followed by a long walk across the meadows on my archive lunch break :)
Just uploaded the text from my research piece on the influence of social media on the the Venice Architecture Biennale. Let me know what you think… Or if you see any typos!
The Impact of Social Media on the Venice Architecture Biennale.
The Architecture Biennale’s continued relevance and worldwide audience has made it the world’s most prolific and revered event in the architectural calendar. Throughout it’s history the Biennale has transformed and adapted itself through the ages, remaining relevant despite two world wars and over one-hundred years of social, economic and cultural change. One of the most recent cultural shifts affecting the ways in which the biennale is regarded has been the advent of the digital age. This and the increasing influence of social media is changing the global public perception of the Biennale. In addition it is altering the ways in which the exhibitions are both accessed and engaged with.
In the past those that could not attend the Biennale could access it through printed news sources. With the advent of the digital age televised broadcasts gave way to online news outlets. Now as we move into the information age, online access to the exhibition has increased dramatically through social media sources; Facebook “posts”, Tumblr “blogs” and “Twitter” “tweets” are now the primary means of accessing the Biennale for countless citizens across the world. In 1980, due to growing popularity, the architecture biennale became a separate exhibition and at the last Architecture Biennale in 2012 over 178,000 people attended the twelve-week event. However this figure does not take into account the countless numbers that experienced the Biennale online. It is the increasing influence of social media that has the greatest power to disseminate and present the exhibitions in new and unexpected ways. Each of us can now be our own broadcaster; no longer are we passive consumers but instead active producers. A visitor to the Biennale can take only what he or she desires, create unique conclusions and present those thoughts via social media; a medium in which everyone’s voice can supposedly be heard and answered to. The influence this unadulterated commentary is having on the publics’ perception of the Biennale may not yet be fully understood. Little research has been produced on the subject of social media’s influence on either architecture or exhibitions, let alone the two in conjunction with one another.
One area that considerable research has been undertaken in is the theory of space. The increasing number of people accessing the biennale via 2D digital imagery as opposed to experiencing the exhibitions as 3D space is of importance in understanding how the perception of the Biennale is being altered. Renowned spatial theorist Henri Lefebvre acknowledges that space is made up of a triad of “spatial practice”, “representation of space” and “representational space”. The first represents the physical world. The second is the realm of the perception of space; for example scientists, planners or social engineers analysing data from the physical world to draw conclusions. Lastly is representational space, which in the digital era is growing in importance as a “space as directly lived through its associated images and symbols”. This can be interpreted as the 2D space of the screen perceived by the user. However advances in technology are altering the ways in which the latter “representational space” is comprehended.
At the 2014 Biennale the Australian exhibition presented “Augmented Australia”. This was presented in the form of an interactive “app” that uses technology to take visitors on a virtual journey through a selection of Australia’s most intriguing, unrealised projects. The app provides a solution to comprehending the three-dimensional in two-dimensions through the use of technology and trick perspectives. The first technique provides 1:1 scaled models geo-positioned around Venice that can be found and viewed through the app. Secondly, at the Australian Pavilion, where tablets provide animations, interviews and 3D models triggered by the users’ movement around the exhibition stands.
Despite the emphasis on investing in the digital, the importance of establishing physical domain remains of importance. The Australian Council for the Arts who manage the Australian exhibition are in the process of building a permanent pavilion at the Giardini. This will replace the temporary structure that was opened in 1988, thus permanently establishing an Australian presence at the Biennale. The Chair of the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art and architect for the project John Denton believes, “it will be a building that will proudly represent Australia and be recognised as a powerful addition to the pavilions in the Giardini”. It is with the advent of technological advances that representational space can combine with physical space to create new experiences despite geographical distance. This will bring a greater level of reality to those who otherwise would not have access to the physical Biennale.
Unlike the Australian Pavilion where a group was appointed to create the exhibition, the US pavilion adopts a different approach. The exhibition titled “OfficeUS” becomes a work-space for selected creatives to undertake their own individual projects. These undetermined pieces work then become part of the exhibition content and are added to an existing “library” of American projects. Information on these projects are arranged in folders around the entire pavilion periphery. In a sense the pavilion becomes an anti-exhibition, changing the pavilion from a means of presentation to a machine for production and demonstration. The partners at OfficeUS use a variety of digital and social media tools to reach an audience far broader than the Biennale itself. One such partnership geared towards reaching an audience with a specific interest in the Biennale is with online architecture and design platform Architizer. Through this projects can be directly uploaded from the creators to the site. As consumers consistently demand more control over their media consumption, requiring on-demand and immediate access to information at their own convenience, online social media outlets such as Architizer will continue to grow in popularity and cultural relevance. These groups offering consumers instant access to content are perceived by consumers as a more trustworthy source of information than corporate-sponsored communications transmitted via the traditional promotional outlets. Despite the pavilions large online presence the OfficeUS team recognise the importance of a physical presence too. Tweets uploaded online can be viewed instantly inside the pavilion via a live twitter feed projection. It’s location in the kitchen of the pavilion, traditionally the place of close family communication within the home, encourages visitors to engage with the online debate but also to communicate with the OfficeUS team in person.
Similarly to the OfficeUS pavilion, the ‘Lavapolis - Friday in Venice’ installation at the 2014 biennale embraced the concept of social media as a means to generate discussion. This trans-media speculative experience uses a variety of online platforms to communicate the imagined journey of Friday, a resident of the fictional island of Lavapolis. Via this imagined journey a selection of online debates centred on the problems facing Europe are presented and the public, they are then encouraged to comment and provide proposals to the problems through numerous social media channels. One problem arising from this ideas “free-for-all” is that the intricate processes that define social interaction are embedded within the environment in which the interactions occur. Therefore the architecture of the digital realm conditions any potential social interactions. To combat this dilemma Michael Schinhelm, who plays the part of the imaginary ‘Friday’, will also be participating in a live performance piece at the Venice Biennale. This centres on a discussion between himself and other Biennale participants that includes experts and a live audience. These people provide an immediate form of participation, whilst a Twitter feed anyone can contribute to continue the debate on a worldwide platform. This allows others not present to participate and share their views.
Whilst providing people with a platform to engage in worthy and meaningful debate is a worthwhile goal, the provision of a definable arena in which debate can take place can provide a useful framework for discussion. For example discussion in a parliament follows a set of predetermined rules where definable outcomes, in this case the production of laws, are the final goal. The context being the country and the values that specific parliament represents. Therefore ‘Friday in Venice’ uses the context of the physical “Monditalia” exhibition, considered a multidisciplinary retrospective on post-war Italy’s development, to provide a framework in which solutions to the problems facing the country and the content of Europe can be presented and debated. Therefore the values and ideas of the contributors to the individual exhibitions presented within Monditalia become the sub-culture in which the debate takes place.
Whilst the physical presence of the Biennale is acknowledged as being key to the event’s continued success, it is also the ability of the contributors to absorb cultural change has enabled it to remain relevant. The Australian pavilion shows the importance of utilising technology to provide an experience to a wider audience. However it recognises this is no substitute for the sense of identity, permanence and continuity a physical building can provide. At the US pavilion, OfficeUS recognised that social media can be used as a platform for sharing of ideas and gauging public opinion. However, it also realised that this was not a replacement for endless opportunities for new ideas that a shared, physical workspace can provide. Similarly Michael Schindhelm, curator of ‘Friday in Venice’ understood the importance of creating a physical setting for debate, then utilising social media as a means to continue that debate within a worldwide context.
In 1893 a circle of artists and art lovers came together to form the proposal that would later become the Venice Biennale. Never could they have predicted the ways in which the world would change, technology would advance and society would alter. As social media has grown in popularity it has undoubtedly given more people a voice, however it is acknowledged that online and physical methods of communication are not separate provinces, but part of the same hybrid cultural system. As our virtual and physical lives continue to entwine we should not look to separate the two, but work to understand how they can compliment one another. Through the continued absorption of change, the Venice Biennale can continue to be the “artistic event with the international profile” that the small circle of artists had hoped it would become over 100 years ago.
Off to Edinburgh next week to visit the Royal Commission for the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland archive and search rooms to do some research on my dissertation before term starts again. Any recommendations for places to visit? I’ve never been to the city before so some exploring will definitely be on the agenda too!
Has anyone given any thought to how a ‘Yes’ vote in the Scottish referendum may impact on Scottish architecture?
Really struggling to work out what in the world this book is talking about. I know it is a key book for my Venice research write up (perception of 2d digital space vs 3d physical space), but the whole thing is so dense and abstract in it’s explanation that it feels like it is wrote in another language.
A tomb of books at the British Library. If only it didn’t take an hour to sign up and get to the one book you want and had to preorder 2 days in advance. #dissertationproblems
Why is it almost the end of the summer break and almost time to go back to university! More importantly why have I not done more work over the summer! Arghhhh.
First day at the #SAHGB conference on the Isle of Man looking at the southern vernacular and associated construction methods and materials. I geeked out asking questions about thatching materials, double skinned walls and cruck vs. coupled rafter frames. I need a hobby.
It’s almost that time of year again — a baptism of fire awaits all those budding architects as they embark on the epic journey that is the first year of univ…